Here in Vancity, we are incredibly lucky to have a wealth of really passionate chefs. Chefs who go above and beyond for what they believe in, and aren’t just about the business of running a restaurant.
One such Chef is the Executive Chef at Yew, Ned Bell. Now, Ned is passionate about sustainable seafood, as a quick glance at the Yew menu will show. But beyond that, Chef Bell actually rode his bike across Canada to raise awareness of the issue.
Additionally, his food is outstanding. His Lobster Bisque changed my life, as did his sous vide pork belly. At a recent dinner there, I had Octopus Bacon. Octopus Bacon, people! It was amazing.
I recently got to each Brunch at Yew for the first time. While Chef Bell is the Executive Chef and oversees all menu development, the Brunch menu is mostly credited to Sean Murray, Bell’s Sous Chef.
They have just launched their new fall menu, and as is to be expected, it is seafood-heavy.
But before we get to the seafood, let’s talk brunch cocktails, shall we? Lauren Mote consulted on the cocktail program here, and she is, simply put, the best in the business. These are serious cocktails, and may not be entirely appropriate for brunch, but when in Rome? I adore the IÎe Bourbon. I’m a huge fan of bourbon, and furthermore of the Sazerac, which this reminds me of. I also really liked the Banzai–it’s an adorable shade of pink, and feels just right when brunching with the girls. It’s a flowery drink, with hints of vanilla and hibiscus.
If these kinds of heavier cocktails are a bit too much for you at 11 am on a Sunday, Yew conveniently has a build your own Caesar Bar. Yes, that’s a thing. And I also think they may have one of these in my version of heaven. There are about a dozen different elements available to you to build the Caesar of your dreams. Of course, if you’re feeling a bit lazy, they also have three options on offering: Seafood (with prawns), Smoky Bacon, or Asian (made with Kimchi). Spice is good for curing what ails ya.
Once the difficult task of choosing a brunch bevvie was dealt with, the brunch started with donuts. Which really, if we’re being honest here, every good brunch should. These are mini-donuts, but the PNE has nothing on these. They come with a dipping sauce that changes every week, based on the whims of the chef.
In terms of savory dishes, seafood is the star. There’s lobster scrambled eggs, and yes, those are as decadent as you think they are. There’s a smoked salmon benny and crab benny. My favourite bite was the Dungeness Crab in a jar. It’s served simply with a tomato jam, and some toast as a vehicle. It’s sweet and perfect, and I love that they don’t mess with the beautiful crab and just let it speak for itself. You can also have a Shrimp Caesar salad, that comes with grilled avocado.
If you’re more of a sweet bruncher, you will also have lots of options. There’s a Liege Waffle, or pancakes made with bananas and a pumpkin sauce. The Yew French Toast, however, knocked my socks off. Thick slabs of Brioche are battered and fried, and served with a cardamom-spiced maple syrup. It’s all incredibly warm and winter-inspired.
One thing that’s always impressed me about Chef Bell and his team is how well they are able to cook healthy. “Healthy” isn’t usually a word you associate with an upscale restaurant like Yew. People mostly go there for special occasions, so they are going to indulge. I’ve had the privilege of eating Chef Bell’s vegan food on a few occasions, though, and he’s a really great vegan chef, for a non-vegan! Yew has a vegan menu for both lunch and dinner. Brunch features some great vegetarian fare, like the Golden Potato Gnocchi. Soft pillows of delicious dumplings come with juicy, sauteed mushrooms, and a wonderful vegan Cashew Cream. It’s finished with a fried egg (“to make it brunch-y,” Chef Murray says), but it doesn’t really need it. It’s incredibly comforting and satisfying.
You likely won’t have room for dessert, but if you do, I have to recommend the chocolate ganache. I’ve had it a few times, now and it’s outstanding. Rich and intense, it’s an absolute chocolate-lovers dream.
While Yew is on the pricier side of brunch, it’s a splendid place to go for a special treat. We all, after all, deserve that every once in a while, right?
791 West Georgia Street (at the Four Seasons)
Open for Brunch weekends: 11:30 am to 2:30 pm